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Main Street Menace of the Week: Assembly Bill 1522 (Gonzalez)

John Kabateck
California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

While the legislature is in session, the National Federation of Independent Business/California will be profiling anti-small business bills and initiatives and the adverse effect they would have on California’s job creators.  This is the second column of the 2014 series.

Sometimes the proposals that the legislature comes up with are enough to make small employers feel ill.  Such is the case with Assembly Bill 1522, the proposed mandatory paid sick leave bill authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.  AB 1522 mandates that all employers provide paid sick leave to all employees after only seven days of work in a calendar year.  This bill requires that employers provide all employees with paid sick leave at a rate of one hour per thirty hours worked regardless of size of employer or ability to compensate for the loss.

Mandated paid sick leave creates more opportunity for abuse by employees because it would impose a new job-protected right for employee leave.  Under the current voluntary system, employers may provide paid sick leave if they are able, or make other arrangements that allow for the employee to take time away from the business.  The fact of the matter is that the majority of businesses, according to the National Compensation Survey (March, 2007), already provide sick leave to employees.

It is worth reminding our elected officials that, unlike many larger corporations, small business owners consider their employees to be their extended family.  They want the best for them and want to be flexible when situations like an illness cause their employees to miss work.  Many will take on the shift that their employee misses or just go without an extra set of hands that day.  The bottom line is small business owners want to accommodate their employees, and by imposing a one-size-fits-all mandate, that flexibility goes away.

Something even more concerning in this bill is that it exposes employers to a new private right of action and tilts the legal field in favor of employees by creating a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation if the employer denies the leave request or takes an adverse employment action against any employee who has used paid sick leave.  Take one sick day and an employee can now sue if their employer takes any negative action regardless of the actual reason.

Now small employers have to be concerned with retaliation from employees who don’t feel that they have received their ‘fair share’ of sick leave, or feel that they have missed out on a professional opportunity because they missed work due to illness.  Add this to the barrage of the ADA and Prop 65 lawsuits that employers get hit with and one wonders if it’s even worth keeping the doors open.

The reality is this – add more mandates to small business owners and you take away time for them to do what they do best – create jobs and support their employees and communities.  At the end of the day, small employers are the human resources department of their company and they want to do right by their employees.

Enough is enough – it is time to saw ‘NO’ to more employer mandates in the Golden State.  And we urge those in the Legislature to do just that by rejecting AB 1522.

For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities. Learn more at www.NFIB.com/ca.

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